I don’t know about you, but the word “grown-up” makes me bristle. And if I ever hear it in a phrase like “You need to grow up” or “When are you going to grow up?”, it makes me downright angry. So how could I possibly come up with something like Project Grown-Up?
Well, that story is elsewhere, but with the myriad definitions of “grown-up” out there, it seems prudent to give a word or two about what grown-up means in the context of this blog.
In short, for our purposes,
a grown-up is someone who is growing into the person they want to become
It’s not a person who has passed a certain milestone (an age, marriage, child-bearing (or rearing), a particular job, or owning a home), it’s not the person your parents or society want you to be or the person you think society wants you to be. Which also means that the mere passing of one (or all) of the possible milestones doesn’t make one a grown-up either.
Of course, by this definition, to be growing into the person one wants to become, one must a) be becoming, b) know what one is presently aiming for, and c) match the becoming and the aim. As life changes on a dime, and as our desires and circumstances are constantly in flux, none of this is cemented. Which means that the idea of growing up is really more about acting intentionally than anything else.
The alternative is remaining who we’ve always been… stuck in our ruts, the product of our upbringing and life experiences. Having the same hang-ups and what my friend Shea calls “social b.o.” that we’ve always had. Because the fact of the matter is that we are becoming and changing. The question is whether we’re doing this in a direction we intend, or if we’re letting someone else – or even our own inaction – do the deciding for us.
This does not mean that to be a grown-up one must always busy about frenetically. Rather, actively deciding for oneself what is appropriate in a given season of life, taking into account personality, interests, and priorities, and then living that out. This is grown-up. For some of us that means a lot of down time (spent in conciously decided ways). For others that means paddling like heck toward a certain goal. What they have in common is not their appearance, but what lies just beyond view; it’s intentionality, its becoming.
Of course, once we determine to set out on any adventure, we can benefit from those who have gone before us and know the lay of the land a little better. This might mean picking up a map, asking for directions, or just listening to the stories of fellow sojourners. Which is why Project Grown-Up will contain things relating to both the setting out (and persevering) and useful resources for the road.
Saddle up, y’all.
So what are your big interests or hangups? Maps you need or baggage you want to leave behind?